My family and I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County this fall in memory of my aunt Peg who passed away from cancer earlier this year. My aunt Peg volunteered for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County in the past, so my family and friends wanted to come together and do something that she loved doing in her memory. I was looking forward to volunteering with my family and friends to help make a difference in someone’s life, while spending time together and sharing stories of my aunt with one another.
The day we were scheduled to volunteer, I was prepared to paint walls, as that was the activity I had been told our group would be doing. However, when I arrived, I was informed I would be working on wood flooring instead. I was surprised and a little bit nervous, as I had never done a job like wood flooring before! But, with a quick overview of how to use some tools, including a miter saw, and some instructions about how to put the flooring down, I was ready to tackle the job with my team. I was the designated cutter, so I cut pieces to the appropriate lengths and helped to line them up and place them together. After the first few rows, my team got the hang of it and started moving along more efficiently. We made good progress and finished a large portion of the dining room floor, and I was proud to see the work we had accomplished at the end of the day.
My volunteering experience with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County turned out to be so empowering, as I was in a group with two other women working on a job none of us had experience doing. I learned that I was capable of using tools like a miter saw and laying down flooring, and I even enjoyed doing it!
On Tuesday, December 6th, I had the pleasure of attending the dedication ceremony at the house I had worked on and had the opportunity to see the entire house completed. The house was packed, as dozens and dozens of people showed up for the event. There were introductions, speeches, and gifts given, but my favorite part of the evening was when the new homeowner, Tiara Vandam, spoke.
As a volunteer, I was able to see and hear about the impact I had made for Tiara and her family, and it was so great to know the home was going to someone who was kind and deserving.
In addition to hearing Tiara speak, I was able to read her story, which was included in the program at the dedication ceremony.
A few days after the ceremony, I received an e-mail from Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, thanking me for volunteering.
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County did a great job of communicating impact by sharing stories and results, and thanking their volunteers. My experience with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County was wonderful and I will be more likely to volunteer/donate to their organization in the future, knowing that I made a difference for a deserving family.
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is a great example of making your volunteers’ experience great by communicating impact and thanking your volunteers. Remember it is important to build relationships with your volunteers by offering direct volunteerism opportunities at your United Way, rather than passing all of your volunteers through to partner agencies. Volunteers will be more likely to contribute to your United Way if their volunteering experience is with your United Way, rather than another organization.
Becoming issue-focused opens the door to direct volunteerism opportunities at your United Way, and increases engagement with your volunteers and donors. Check out our Web page about what it means to be issue-focused here.